In September 2014 at Idaho State University, a teacher accidentally shot himself in the foot when his concealed handgun discharged. Students in the chemistry class watched.
Later that month at a Utah elementary school, a teacher carrying a concealed weapon accidentally shot herself in the leg as she used the restroom.
In 2016, a group of elementary school students in Pennsylvania found a loaded gun in the bathroom after a teacher accidentally left it behind.
In all these cases, it’s lucky no child got hurt.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump doubled down on his suggestion that schools arm teachers with weapons to counteract armed intruders, such as the one who killed 17 people last week in Parkland, Florida. Trump went so far as to say that those who received training to use firearms could be eligible for extra pay.
But you don’t have to look far to see that this policy could have devastating, albeit unintended, consequences.
Law enforcement groups and teacher organizations have expressed opposition to the president’s firearm proposal.
Mo Canady, the executive director of the National Association for School Resource Officers ― the group that trains and represents school cops ― warned that law enforcement officers responding to an incident might mistake a teacher with a firearm for an assailant.
He also expressed skepticism about how an armed teacher would respond to a school shooting attack.
“Anyone who hasn’t received the extensive training provided to law enforcement officers will likely be mentally unprepared to take a life, especially the life of a student assailant,” Canady said in a statement.
A number of states allow teachers to carry weapons on college and K-12 campuses under certain circumstances. In a few scattered school districts throughout the country, teachers are systematically armed.
It’s an idea that both of the nation’s teacher unions strongly oppose.
“Bringing more guns into our schools does nothing to protect our students and educators from gun violence,” Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association that represents three million educators, said in a statement. “Our students need more books, art and music programs, nurses and school counselors; they do not need more guns in their classrooms.”
Bill Bond spent years studying school safety with the National Association for Secondary School Principals. Bond, now retired, was the principal of Kentucky’s Heath High School in 1997 when a student shot and killed three classmates. He doesn’t pretend to have found the answer on school safety ― after 20 years of studying the issue, he said there’s no easy fix.
But he does know that teachers shouldn’t be armed with weapons. He said he worries that more children would die from accidental shootings if teachers were armed than from school shootings.
“I’m coming at that from a standpoint of a person that’s been in a school shooting. I have taken the gun from a guy that had just killed three kids, and also the perspective of a person whose been around guns all their life,” Bond said. “If you’re in a school shooting, it’s a situation of instant decisions. I had 3 kids killed in 12 seconds. Thats how fast it happens.”